The Russian ambassador to the United Nations said he has complained to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about UN criticism of Western populist leaders, but he denied defending U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Vitaly Churkin said the UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, overstepped his authority when he recently criticized populist politicians in the United States and Europe as "demagogues and political fantasists."
"He should stick to human rights," Churkin said on October 10. "He should not be criticizing foreign heads of state and government for their policies. This is not his business."
Zeid's scathing attack on "demagogues" last month singled out Trump, who he said has much in common with Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, French National Front leader Marine Le Pen, and leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage.
Churkin said he complained about Zeid during a private meeting with Ban, but Trump was not mentioned -- only the European politicians.
"If it were Trump, then the United States should have complained, because it would have meant that he is interfering in their domestic presidential campaign," he said.
"But I am not working for the United States. I am working for the Russian Federation, so why should I complain if someone is trying to interfere?"
An earlier Associated Press report said that Churkin mentioned Trump in his conversation with Ban, fueling speculation that the Kremlin is working to help Trump win the November 8 election, as his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton has charged.
AP continued to stand behind its original report on October 10, saying UN officials present at the meeting with Ban said Churkin specifically mentioned Trump in his complaint.